Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

August 25, 1939

THE PRESIDENT: Be careful of your facial expressions this morning. You are being photographed. [A still photographer and a movie photographer were taking pictures of the Press Conference, this Press Conference being the first since the beginning of the new crisis in Europe.]

Q. [Mr. Godwin] Where?

THE PRESIDENT: You must look serious. That is perfect. [Speaking to Mr. Belair] You should not laugh. What is everybody coming in for this morning?

Q. We have a big crowd.[

It was announced that all of the Press were in the room.]

THE PRESIDENT: I literally have no news this morning. You all know the gravity of the situation. There has been no answer as yet from any of the European countries to the messages that were sent yesterday. I do not think there is anything else.

Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on Senator Borah's sources of information? (Laughter)

THE PRESIDENT: No. I think the implications that have been made on the air by one or two of my friends were, perhaps, justified.

Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on Congressman Fish's activities?

THE PRESIDENT: No. (Laughter)

Q. Mr. President...

THE PRESIDENT: [interposing] That soft snicker (laughter), that comes from the Press. (Laughter)

Q. Mr. President, is it too early to have given any thought to the possible cancellation of your western trip?

THE PRESIDENT: No, Russ [Mr. Young], I do not think so yet. It is just one of those things—not making any plans ahead, absolutely none. I have not cancelled anything and I have not made any more dates.

Q. Does the trip stand, or until further notice?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, and just the same way with the trip going to Hyde Park on Monday night. That stands subject to further notice.

Q. Will the new crisis increase our armament program, specifically the New England air base?

THE PRESIDENT: Not as of today, no.

Q. Mr. President, do you plan a special session of Congress?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I think I made that perfectly clear. Perhaps there was a little confusion on the word "imminent." I always think that imminent carries with it the connotation of certainty and I would not regard the present situation as certain to result in war. There is not much more to be said about calling the Congress. I think we all very devoutly hope that war is not certain.

Q. [Mr. Godwin] Mr. President, there are certain things I should not ask you; but I am going to ask you if you have that devout hope based on any knowledge?

THE PRESIDENT: Nothing more than you have and we all have. In other words, quite frankly, you all know just as much about the situation as I do.

Q. Mr. President, could you tell us something about the efforts being made to take care of the effects of war on the United States?

THE PRESIDENT: Of course there isn't really much that is new on that. Ever since early September of 1938, we have all been thinking of the steps to be taken in the event that actual war broke out. There has been certain machinery which has been prepared, such as on the financial needs, the bringing back of Americans from war zones and things of that kind. That machinery has been pretty well perfected during the past year and it is a question of its use—pressing the button at the appropriate time. Almost every department of the Government is concerned with that; and probably most of the people I shall see and talk to today from the departments will refer to the use of that machinery if it becomes necessary.

Q. Mr. President, do you have any Latin American mediator [referring to the President's messages to Poland and Germany] in mind?

THE PRESIDENT: No, nobody in mind.

Q. Mr. President, so far as the cushioning machinery is concerned, would you say that it was at its maximum efficiency now to operate immediately, so far as you know?

THE PRESIDENT: I would not say maximum. I would say better than it has been at any time in the past. Nothing is ever perfect. . . .

Q. Do you expect to go back to Hyde Park, sir, any time soon?

THE PRESIDENT: Not if the general world situation remains next Monday as it is today.

Q. Otherwise, you go up about next Monday night?.

THE PRESIDENT: No. I say, if it is as it is today next Monday, I shall stay here.

Q. What has got to happen over there, Mr. President, before you call a special session? (Laughter)

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think I can go over it again. I tried to make it clear. And, after all, compared with today's news, that is, at the present time, a rather minor factor in the world news. There are other things more important today.

Q. [Mr. Godwin] Mr. President, would you like to have the minutes of this meeting contain our "Happy Birthday" wishes for Mr. Early on Sunday?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that is a very, very excellent suggestion. And to have reached the half century mark! Do you remember when we reached the half century mark? There is one thing we can tell him: We feel younger today than we did then, so that is at least—

Q. [Mr. Godwin, interposing] You may! (Laughter)

THE PRESIDENT: I am just holding a little hope out to him. It is always darkest just before the dawn. (Laughter) I think the fifties are pretty good, don't you?

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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